Deepening Economic Integration for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in South Asia
14 – 16 November 2017
‘Deepening Economic Integration for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in South Asia’ was the theme of the 10th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES), held on 14 – 16 November, in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Summit was co-organized by the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) in Nepal, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in India, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Pakistan, and IPS.
A special session in memory of IPS former Executive Director, late Saman Kelegama, discussed the way forward for the regional integration agenda. Moderating the session, IPS Executive Director, Dushni Weerakoon, said Dr. Kelegama’s absence will be felt not only in Sri Lanka’s policy circle, but throughout South Asia. The Keynote Speech was delivered by the Chairman of CPD, Rehman Sobhan. The panel comprised of Distinguished Fellow of CPD, Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of SDPI, Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Chairman of SAWTEE, Posh Raj Pandey, and Director of the Social Development Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Nagesh Kumar.
Meanwhile, IPS Research Fellow, Ganga Tilakaratna, during a session on SDGs and inclusive growth in South Asia, highlighted four key policy areas for the region to achieve SDGs: productive employment, investment in human capital, improved social protection, and better access to financial services.
IPS Research Fellow, Manoj Thibbotuwawa, noted that information and communication gaps, inadequate risk management options, poor institutional capacity, and poor policy environment were the major constraints to reducing farmers’ vulnerability to climate change. He was speaking at a session on regional cooperation on climate change.
IPS Research Officer, Kithmina Hewage, who was a panelist at the session on unleashing the potential of intraregional investment, argued that continued discussions on a regional investment agreement is an exercise in futility and that the emphasis should be on bilateral arrangements and unilateral reforms. He also noted that one of the reasons for the absence of regional value chains in South Asia is that India, the driver of the region’s economy, skipped industrialization, and grew through the expansion of its services sector. India’s move back to focus on its manufacturing sector now, however, should provide other countries in the region with better opportunities to create value chains in the future.